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Team needs: Cleveland Browns

Mike Holmgren AP

I had so much fun (eye roll) doing the team needs for the NFC North last weekend that I volunteered to do the AFC North.

Let’s start with the team that generally needs to get a lot better, given that the franchise has been to the playoffs only once since returning to the league in 1999.

DE/DT:  With the Browns switching from a 3-4 back to a 4-3, they need the right personnel.  They’ll have their pick of plenty of defensive linemen with the sixth overall selection in the draft.  They also need to hope that free agency arrives in time for them to find some other bodies to beef up the first four members of the front seven.

OL:  Left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack are rock solid.  But to be truly competitive in the AFC North, the Browns need to work on the right side of the line.  The sixth pick will be too high to search for a right guard or a right tackle; they’re better off waiting for later rounds, or exploring free agency.

WR:  Josh Cribbs still hasn’t developed into a high-end wideout, and while Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie still have time to establish themselves, the Browns needs a true playmaker.  Like Braylon Edwards was in 2007, when he could still catch.  And when he wasn’t a major pain in the butt.

While many would like to see the Browns lasso A.J. Green or Julio Jones with the sixth overall pick (team president Mike Holmgren said in February that he’s looking for a “home-run hitter“), the bust rate for first-round wideouts perhaps should prompt the Browns to go with a safer choice in round one, and to address the receiver position via lower rounds or free agency.

LB:  The switch from 3-4 to 4-3 also requires the Browns to take a long, hard look at whether they’ve got the right players on the second line of defense.  Chris Gocong has experience in a 4-3 from his time in Philly.  Ditto for Scott Fujita, with the Saints.  Still, it’s an area that the Browns must address as they overhaul their front seven.

QB:  Even if Colt McCoy will be the starter in 2011 and beyond, they need guys other than Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace behind McCoy.  Whether that’s a rookie or a free agent depends on whether they sufficiently like any of the rookies who are available when the Browns exercise any of their various picks.

Overview:  The Browns have a long way to go, given that they’re competing with the Ravens and the Steelers.  The key will be to demonstrate patience, accepting the fact that it takes time to build a contender, especially in light of the condition of the franchise after the Phil Savage/Romeo Crennel regime.

It’s more than any one draft can fix.  But if they can stockpile some contributors in the draft and attract some talented veterans through free agency, they could close the gap considerably in 2011.

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43 Responses to “Team needs: Cleveland Browns”
  1. barklikeadog says: Apr 15, 2011 10:14 PM

    Here we go Brownies, here we go. WOOF! WOOF!

  2. handlethehandles says: Apr 15, 2011 10:22 PM

    For the first time in 10 years I actually feel like the Browns are getting better and seemingly have a direction. It would be great if this years draft was at least half as good as last years…

  3. Fantasy Football says: Apr 15, 2011 10:26 PM

    The Browns are missing a playmaker. They should draft A.J Green or J.Jones, the 31st ranked offense needs a spark.

  4. angulocarlos1 says: Apr 15, 2011 10:29 PM

    Gotta admire the Brown faithfuls. I woulda given up on them by now if they were my hometeam.

  5. brownsfn says: Apr 15, 2011 10:33 PM

    Peterson/Green in the 1st and Torrey Smith/best Dlineman in the second…make it happen Heckert…

  6. thefiesty1 says: Apr 15, 2011 10:35 PM

    A premier receiver you dolts. AJ or Julio or trade Delhome to Cincy for Shipley. McCoy and Shipley together again. Woof, Woof!

  7. MichaelEdits says: Apr 15, 2011 10:36 PM

    They need to get rid of Holmgren. One Super Bowl with Favre, a bunch of mediocrity, and a whole lot of hype.

    Oh, wait, that suits Cleveland’s reboot, doesn’t it? Never mind.

    But they DON’T need playmakers. Ha ha ha ha.

  8. bfridley says: Apr 15, 2011 10:46 PM

    THE BROWNS BEFORE THE RAVENS!?

    Seriously. Get with the Ravens article. I don’t know what the hold up is.

    This is the only time the Browns are ahead of the Ravens at anything, and the only other time they are first at something is in a race to the offseason.

  9. bensstinkyfingers says: Apr 15, 2011 11:04 PM

    Please pick A.J. or Julio with the first pick, We don’t need another Gerard Warren Barrell Arse D-line bust. It will take alot to get the Browns to the Super Bowl, so for now I will drop a few of them off myself while dreaming of a championship! Go Browns! Go Charmin Double Ply!

  10. civilwarfish says: Apr 15, 2011 11:45 PM

    Gonna be a fun year for Browns fans. Of course people will get big thoughts and start thinking playoffs when any good sustained play starts to happen, but thats still a year or so off.

    But the Browns are starting to come together. Eric Mangini instilled the concept of a winning culture in these players. Now it’s up to Pat Shurmur to make them actual winners. Tom Heckert has to get the players, Shurmer has to weave them into a good and proper unit.

    Holmgren took on a huge job here. He hasnt seen the half of it yet. The closer we get to returning to former glory the tougher it is gonna be to wait out until it actually happens. This is the AFC North. We have the Ravens and more importantly the Steelers to contend with. We can knock em all we want, but we also understand that these are two of the perennially toughest teams in the NFL. Until we handle them routinely, we cant hope to handle the rest.

    That means the Browns gotta be the meanest, toughest, most determined team to emerge this decade. Thats a tough bill to fill. If Holmgren succeeds he will be a hero forever in Cleveland and his name will grace the ring of fame he put in place at the stadium. He has already made a difference. I am excited to see just how far he can take us.

  11. rayjayjohnsonjr says: Apr 16, 2011 1:36 AM

    This just in – B Favre has texted his interest in joining the Browns and his old coach, especially after seeing this pathetic pic. He feels that he and Mike can get the job done one more time if they can also get Moss, TO and a few other misfits….and he will bet his wranglers on it. Stay tuned.

  12. bartpkelly says: Apr 16, 2011 1:42 AM

    Seneca is on e of the best back-ups in the NFL. He isn’t a starter but an excellent back-up. They just need a 3rd string guy…

  13. 4512dawg4512 says: Apr 16, 2011 2:29 AM

    First round, trade down maybe with the Redskins, than pick up a DL or DE. Second round go for a WR, maybe Leonard Hankerson out of Miami, or Cobb from UK. We don’t need a speed WR like J Jones because Colt doesn’t have the arm to get it to him. With Hardesty and Hillis in the backfield lets stay with the short game and concentrate on defense. Fairly would be great if we don’t trade out of the 6th pick. A.J Green does run tight routes and has great hands so he’d be a better fit for McCoy than Jones would but Mohamed Massaquoi and Robiskie are damn good recievers. Cribbs can work too. Aside from Calvin Johnson I’m just not big on 1st round receivers. Browns need to go t D first

  14. thetooloftools says: Apr 16, 2011 4:26 AM

    Idiots scream that stupid chant everywhere in his town.
    Like lemmings charging into the sea to their death.

  15. calloustongue says: Apr 16, 2011 7:28 AM

    They don’t have the personnel to run a 4-3 or a 3-4 properly. Two more years at least until they have a decent enough roster to even contend in their division.

  16. donttouchthedirtypenny says: Apr 16, 2011 7:34 AM

    Cleveland Brownstreaks

  17. fifteenclubs says: Apr 16, 2011 8:02 AM

    Bill is that you??

  18. bigtrav425 says: Apr 16, 2011 8:07 AM

    There is no way we do NOT draft a defensive lineman with our first pick.Thats how bad we need one with a 4-3.Only way we dont is if they plan on being aggressive and sign a free agent or 3 (if the lockout ends).even then they would still draft 1 or 2 somewhere in the draft.

  19. beckzhere says: Apr 16, 2011 8:16 AM

    AJ Green is one of the only true “home-run hitters” in this draft. They won’t pass on him if he’s available.

  20. j0esixpack says: Apr 16, 2011 8:32 AM

    They don’t need a playmaker. They have Ben Watson!

  21. hitdog042 says: Apr 16, 2011 9:22 AM

    thefiesty1 says: trade Delhomme to cincy for Shipley.
    ———–

    Wow. Another delusional Browns fan.

  22. ArtModellsPimp says: Apr 16, 2011 9:45 AM

    Thank God that Holmgren pushed for Colt McCoy in last year’s draft… and the Browns don’t have to be part of that Locker / Mallet / Newton fiasco that’s about to happen.

  23. TheWizard says: Apr 16, 2011 9:58 AM

    This place has ruined a lot of football players.

    If they commit to McCoy, they might have a chance. That was a pretty good team that smacked the Patriots around last year.

  24. tashkalucy says: Apr 16, 2011 10:09 AM

    He missed the fact that the Browns need another DB across of Haden, as Eric Wright is more of a nickel back that they can use and then move Sheldon Brown over to Safety. If Patrick Peterson is available at 6 the Browns jump on him.

    But most importantly — Heckert has always picked the best guy on his board when he drafts. Consequently, the Browns may not look to fill a need early. And while we don’t know where Peterson is on the Browns board, we know he’s at #1 or close to #1 on most draftnicks boards. So if he lasts till #6 that’s a no-brainer pick.

    Last point — if for some reason Newton and/or Gabbert are available at 6, then I look for the Browns to pit the 49’ers, Vikings and at least one other team against one another to trade up to get the QB. The Browns have so many needs that getting a 2 or 3 along with a lower 1 would be a gimmie as well.

  25. bsmb says: Apr 16, 2011 10:49 AM

    Browns got some good loyal hopeful fans…to bad the organization doesn’t feel the same.

  26. trickbunny says: Apr 16, 2011 11:00 AM

    MichaelEdits says:
    Apr 15, 2011 10:36 PM

    They need to get rid of Holmgren. One Super Bowl with Favre, a bunch of mediocrity, and a whole lot of hype.
    —————————————————-

    I guess you forgot about him going to a complete loser program (i.e. Seahawks), completely turning it around, taking them to their first Super Bowl ever, and making the playoffs 7 out of the 10 years he was there.

    No, that’s no accomplishment at all, right? ;)

    But hey, if you had remembered that, you wouldn’t be able to write a retarded post and make yourself look as clueless and idiotic as you did- so I completely understand :)

  27. franklinstking says: Apr 16, 2011 11:12 AM

    The Browns will pick the highest rated player on the board, except a qb, which will bring a trade down from Browns. Peterson, Dareus, Green, Miller, Quinn, and Fairley in that order.

  28. boycottfootballcom says: Apr 16, 2011 11:16 AM

    getting better?? they cant get worse.
    no QB, no WRs, LITERALLY no Dlinemen, hahaha
    one RB who is a single “leap” from being out the season. isnt the kicker leaving?? i dont think the browns could field a team right now.
    they only have a mediocre cb group, a limp noodle qb, and a hard ass running back who is going to kill himself in a half season.

    are they headed in the right direction, yes….
    but at this second, they have to be the worse team in the nfl

  29. Magnakai Haaskivi says: Apr 16, 2011 11:50 AM

    Just to throw it out there, the Browns have still won a playoff game more recently than the Bengals.

  30. larrydavidstern says: Apr 16, 2011 12:10 PM

    I thought they shoulda given Mangini one more year. Instead, Holmgren goes out and hires some no name just b/c they share the same agent and blows up the defense again switching it back to a 4-3 just when they were starting to make progress!? Plus, isn’t it better to run a 3-4 anyway these days since it’s such a passing league?

  31. hitdog042 says: Apr 16, 2011 12:24 PM

    what exactly has Colt McCoy done for Cleveland? Browns fans will thumbs down this post, just like they thumbs up the idiots idea that Jake Delhomme is worth Jordan Shipley.

    Browns fans average wonderlic: 3

    Yeah, a 36 year old crappy QB is worth a 2nd year up and coming WR.

    Yeah, the Browns’ F.O is so awesome, to what.. the tune of 4 wins.

    Browns’ fans are the biggest group of homers in the history of NFL fans

  32. hitdog042 says: Apr 16, 2011 12:33 PM

    BTW clowns fans, since 1999 you average 10.66 losses per year.

    Deal with that.

    Stay optimistic…. it’s all ya got to keep from jumping in Lake Erie.

  33. 4512dawg4512 says: Apr 16, 2011 1:13 PM

    If Cam Newton falls to #6 we’ve got to get him. Colt is a dead man back there. Too small, no downfield vision and thats why Watson and Hillis were his top two targets last year, because he can’t get the ball down field. The Browns play from behind a lot and if the QB doesn’t have a long ball than its going to be another 5-11 season

  34. bsmb says: Apr 16, 2011 6:28 PM

    Holmgrens agent is running this whole organization…if you cant see that then you are living in denial. As long as this is going on the browns will never win. Better off bringing back Mangini, at least he got this team going in a better direction than before. Holmgren blew up everything again and its back to square one. This agent is pretty much robbing randy learner and Holgren and his buddies are laughing straight to the bank win or lose. If learner cant see what this agent is doing then he should at least put his money in a useful charity.

  35. bsmb says: Apr 16, 2011 6:29 PM

    not to mention holmgrens head is too big (literally and figuratively) to do anything special in cleveland

  36. civilwarfish says: Apr 16, 2011 6:43 PM

    Hitdogo

    Bengals record same time period reflects 9.86 losses per year.

    This for a team that has played without interruption or dismantling of their team for 40 years give or take a few.

    The Browns have a rich tradition, filled with Championships and real hard fought and hard won glory. Yes, it has been a long time, but we are proud of where we have gone and will be proud again as we attain our greatness once again.

    We ARE the biggest group of homers in the NFL. Homers simply means that we are LOYAL, HOPEFUL, and willing to BELIEVE in our team year in and year out, and we dont give up. We have tasted glory. We will again.

    Will you?

    nah….

  37. bsmb says: Apr 17, 2011 4:52 AM

    eric wright is back on drugs and thats why he did perform this past year…and please deny it everyone cause i cant wait for it to come out…as for cribbs once you pay the man he stops caring so hes laughin to the bank without doing anything…browns needs?….can they draft a new owner and president?

  38. bsmb says: Apr 17, 2011 4:53 AM

    didnt*

  39. civilwarfish says: Apr 17, 2011 8:38 PM

    bsmb

    Dude…what happened to you that gave you such an anti-Browns attitude? Must be a ratbird fan.

    Eric Wright lost his job. Gotta win it back. I dont know one way or another about drugs, Joe Haden owns that job now. Sheldon Brown owns the other corner till someone takes it from him.

    You dont have to put up false crap about the Brownies, they have enough holes to stisfy anyone who wants to wish em poorly. They are also working hard at fixin em enough to satisfy many fans like me who realize its gonna take time.

    As to Cribbs…he played hurt and he was avoided last year. He did fine and will do better this year. He already earned the money he got.

  40. realkelevra says: Apr 18, 2011 11:43 AM

    I do truly recognize the need for a DL this year, but if everything being said about how special AJ Green is true, I find it impossible to pass on him.

    Like it or not fellow Browns fans, MoMass, Robes, n Cribbs(from a WR stance) are not game changers, at least not without a bona fide threat @ wide-out to detract attention. We need one, DESPERATELY!

    I don’t think we fix our DL in a SINGLE DRAFT any way, likewise, everyone keeps talking about how deep it is on the line, so grab a guy in round 2.

    We can instantly improve our offense production with ONE PICK. If Green is there, so long as Heckert believes he can excel at the next level, regardless of who else is on the board, we should take him.

    It’s that clear, cut and dry to me.

  41. Earl Westlake says: Apr 20, 2011 9:56 AM

    I’m calling it now…Nick Fairley will be the #6 pick for the Browns. He’s a penetrator who’ll look good next to Rubin.

    Next 3 or 4 picks will be DE, WR, CB, and OL in some order (best available).

  42. hedphurst says: Apr 23, 2011 2:09 PM

    Green or Jones would be a mistake at #6 for a team switching schemes on both offense and defense. A team with aging veterans manning key spots in the defensive front seven. A team whose best pass rusher last year was a part time player who doesn’t really fit in as an every down player in a 4-3. A team that just spent two 2nd-round picks on WRs two drafts ago (both of whom have shown flashes of good skills, and will be entering their 3rd seasons, which is often when WRs “get it” and make significant strides in production).

    The Browns don’t need another young WR. Shurmur helped Bradford have a pretty damn good rookie season with Danny Amendola as the most consistent pass-catcher. I’m not saying McCoy is as good as Bradford, but the WRs and TEs the Browns already have are better than what Bradford had to work with.

    The priority needs to be the defense. Outside of Ward, Haden, and Rubin, there’s nobody guaranteed a job on that side of the ball. That has to change before we start spending top-ten picks on WRs that history tells us won’t make an impact until the second half of his rookie year at best.

  43. MikeHolmgren'sChins says: Apr 24, 2011 3:22 AM

    Heckert loves cornerbacks- its Peterson if he is there.

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